Production

Review: Samson DE50x head microphone with micro-miniature capsule

Although the high-end Samson DE50x head mic is designed for wireless transmitters & body recorders, it can also be adapted for other applications

Here is my review of the ≈US$170 Samson DE50x head microphone with micro-miniature capsule. The DE50x includes 4 windscreens, a collar clip, and a very practical carrying case. Even though the DE50x is designed and marketed for wireless transmitters and certain body recorders and includes 4 different types of plug terminations to match competing brands of body packs, for the test recordings, I chose not to use any wireless transmitter to avoid contaminating your judgement of its audio quality. Ahead you’ll hear three audio recordings and other information.

According to Samson:

The DE50x offers a wide 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response and its omnidirectional pick-up pattern is ideal for capturing clear and consistent speech, even when the subject is turning his or her head and moving around on stage. Its micro-miniature capsule is designed to handle sound pressure levels up to 130 dB.

It is also rated at IP65 for dust and water/sweat resistance.

What the DE50x is, and what it is not

I want to clarify that the DE50x (AmazonB&H) is a head microphone, not a headset. That means that the DE50x does not have any listening or monitoring capabilities. However, it could be used in conjunction with in-ear monitors (aka earbuds or IFB) or even full sized over the ear headphones, if desired.

Four included plug terminations

Here are the four included terminations for popular wireless transmitters and certain body recorders:

  • Switchcraft TA4F connector
  • Switchcraft TA3F connector (not a standard XLR plug)
  • Hirose 4 pin connector
  • 3.5 mm (see comments ahead)

The 3.5 mm termination is TRS with a locking threaded washer, for those 3.5 mm jacks that have the matching threads. This prevents undesired unplugging. However, unlike the the similar TRS 3.5 locking plugin the RØDE HS2 head microphone I reviewed in 2017 (where the washer is removable in case you want to connect it into a 3.5 mm mic input which is not designed for locking and lacks the threads), the DE50’s included 3.5 mm plug’s washer is not removable. This means that you cannot plug the DE50x’s 3.5mm plug directly into any 3.5 mm mic input not designed for locking. It must have the threads. This information is foreshadowing for the next section.

Test recordings and how I made them

 

 

When planning to do the test recordings, I wanted them to be pure, without introducing the possible degradation of a wireless transmitter. Fortunately, the RØDE VXLR+ converter (reviewed here, AmazonB&H) does accept locking 3.5 mm plugs and adapts/converts to XLR. So I used the DE50x’s 3.5 mm locking plug and screwed it into the input end of the VXLR+ converter. Then I plugged the VXLR+ into one of the microphone inputs of the RØDECaster Pro mixer/recorder (covered in these articles, B&H link) and activated 48-volt phantom power for that input. If you read my review of the VXLR+, you know that it reduces the 48-volt phantom power to the much lower bias voltage (“plugin power”) required for unbalanced mics. All other inputs of the RØDECaster Pro were inactive and I disabled all audio processing in the input being used. I made an uncompressed 48 kHz mono recording using Hindenburg Journalist Pro (covered in these articles, use this link for 90-day trial followed by discount), my favorite multitrack audio editor for conventional computers.

Ahead you will hear three different versions: one raw and the other two processed. All are uncompressed mono WAV files and weigh 8.8 MB each. Please listen in your unmetered data connection or wifi.

Above, unprocessed audio.

 

Above, audio with noise reduction applied by Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

 

Above, audio with noise reduction and dynamic compression applied by Hindenburg Journalist Pro.

Conclusions

The ≈US$170 Samson DE50x (AmazonB&H) is not the most costly head microphone I have ever reviewed, nor is it the least expensive. It sits in the middle in terms of price. I really love the carrying case since it is so practical. In terms of applications, it is more restricted than others, since its 3.5 mm connector’s locking washer is not removable. My only suggestion to Samson would be to change the washer on the 3.5 mm to be removable. This would make the DE50x more usable in more applications than is currently possible, while retaining the excellent locking feature for use with devices that are compatible with it. For potential purchasers, use your ears and your budget to decide.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…

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